Blockades represent the greatest challenge for a pirate captain. While involved in a Blockade a ship will face attack from multiple enemy ships, often crewed by other players. It's important to understand what can happen in a blockade before deciding to put your ship, crew, and cargo in harms way.
Entering the Blockade Board
When the Blockade begins, the node point of the island will show red in the sea view. Leaving port or attempting to enter port from the sea will place the vessel on the edge of the Blockade board in a light blue area known as 'the safe zone'. You cannot be damaged or damage others when in the safe zone.
Flags and Influence
A number of flags can be seen towards the center of the board. There are three sizes corresponding to one, two and three points per turn.
Each well-staffed ship has an influence circle around it, which can be revealed by mouse-over. At the end of each turn, the flags within your ships' influence with no conflicting influence are scored for your faction.
You can see how many flags a ship influences by the little tags above the sails. Flags that are simultaneously under the influence of ships from opposing factions are "contended" and appear black. At the end of each turn the flags are scored. Contended flags give no points.
If a blockade has maneuvers enabled, each ship will have several additional option available to it beyond those present in normal sea battles. These maneuvers are available to the navigator from a special row on the sea battle control panel. Maneuvers are earned by puzzlers bilgers, carpenters, and sailors completing the corresponding shapes within their puzzles. The navigator may select a token, or the empty spot for that token to indicate to those aboard which maneuver he or she would prefer were earned. As progress is made towards various maneuvers, they will fill in on the sea battle panel. Additionally, a small indicator will show progress bars for each duty's contribution to earning the maneuver the user's mouse is over or the selected maneuver. Each maneuver has two levels which can be earned, silver, and gold. Once a particular gold maneuver has been earned, no more progress may be earned towards that maneuver.
Maneuver tokens can be dragged to the appropriate spot within the controls in order to use them. Once the turn ends, these maneuvers will be executed in sequence by the ship just like normal movements.
- Circle: Chain Shot. This is placed in a cannon slot. A loaded cannonball will still be used as normal, but when the shot is fired, the ship which is hit will lose some of their stored movement tokens in addition to their normal damage. The gold version of this is the Skull Shot, which destroys movement tokens and does extra damage to any hit vessel.
- Diamond: Turn in Place. This is placed in a movement slot, and will default to a left turn. Selecting the slot again will switch to a right turn. This maneuver allows the ship to turn without moving forward allowing avoidance of collisions or a nasty surprise for any foes following too closely. The gold version of this is the Wave Turn, which turns in place and generates a huge wave in front of the ship which will swamp any unfortunate ships in that location with a large amount of bilge water.
- Plus: Burst of Speed. This is placed in a movement slot. A stray gust of wind catches your sails and the ship moves ahead two spaces in a single movement. The gold version of this is Ramming Speed, in which the ship moves two spaces and has the ramming abilities of a larger ship.
- X: Flotsam. This is placed in a movement slot. Floating debris is dumped out the back of the ship in the hopes of slowing your foes. Ships moving onto Flotsam immediately end their movement for the turn, losing whatever leftover movement tokens they might have had. The gold version of this is Flaming Flotsam, which will not only stop, but also damage any ship that moves onto it.
In blockades where maneuvers are enabled, bilging , carpentry, patching, sailing and rigging take on an additional level of complexity. Follow the links to read about how to play the listed games using the new feature.
Every few turns during the blockade there is a short break to allow the crews a brief respite from the action, and to take a moment to check the scores. Don't forget that you can scroll around the battle board by using the left mouse button (which resets the view back to see your own vessel on release) or the right mouse button (which leaves the view where you place it).
No Boarding and other Strategic Points
There is no boarding in blockades, and grapples cannot be used. This means that effective gunnery is very important, and combatants will require a full hold of cannonballs! Note that Friendly Fire from others in your faction still damages your ship, but at a reduced rate. Swabbies can be used in blockades, but any ship that still has swabbies on board is not sufficiently well-staffed to have influence, and thus cannot score flag points or even contend them.